In the new(ish) setting of Mama Roux’s a little taste of the USA’s Deep South hidden amongst Digbeth’s railway arches advent started strong for Birmingham natives. These four acts from the USA turned out to be a whole lot of fun.
As bass rumbled and the DJ started dropping the beat Mega Ran appeared on stage with the most humble of presences. For a full half hour he had the crowd hyped up and following his every demand. With his incredibly likeable between song patter it is hard to imagine an audience not getting on board with Mega Ran and his enthusiastic delivery. Musically the combination between sharp beats, retro samples and an effortless rhymes are enthralling and added audience participation in the form of singalong choruses and/or hand waving make it impossible not to smile along. By the end of the set Mega Ran embraced his partial namesake Mega Man by donning an arm mounted laser and the set ended on an incredibly nerdy high.
In a break from hip hop and genre’s in general, Koo Koo Kanga Roo stepped out and demanded a pre-set warm up (they clearly care about the audience’s wellbeing) creating the first of many moments to draw interest from the audience. These two really know how to throw a dance party, and from the first to last song this set-list combined exercise class with floor show and was impossible to take your eyes off or keep your feet still whilst they played. The energy radiating from the stage was infectious and within two songs they had the entire audience hooked and moving along to songs about unicorns, friendship bracelets, fanny packs and dinosaurs, each with a set of dance moves and an endless sense of fun.
As the set reached its final dance number (literally), the floor was opened up into what would usually erupt into a circle pit but instead the audience watched Bryan and Neil tear into one final number. As they left the stage the audience stood perplexed for a few moments, not really sure what they had experienced but certainly sure they enjoyed it.
There was an air of disappointment after such an incredible set from Koo Koo Kanga Roo and as MC Chris took the stage the enthusiasm did not increase in the same way as the basslines. The task of following an act so weird and wonderful should not be taken lightly, and in this case reputation may not have been more important than performance. MC Chris is clearly an accomplished performer but even within this set appeared to be a victim of his own success (or the success of ‘Fett’s Vette’) as the audience called for his big hit throughout the set. As a rapper he has an interesting tone and clearly sports a tight flow, sadly he lacked the stage presence of his two predecessors.
As the bass began to shake hair and insides MC Lars sauntered out onto the stage in celebration of ‘The Graduate’ being a decade old and started a hit filled set in an emphatic fashion. He flew through songs with ferocity and infectious enthusiasm with ‘iGeneration’ and ‘Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock’ still holding relevance a decade or more after being written. In between songs Lars is humble and naturally funny creating an instant connection with the audience and encouraging a great atmosphere.
As the set progressed the back cataologue and a few new songs were added in creating further opportunities for crowd participation and party vibes. Lars continued to flatter the crowd and deliver